NorthWest Reference Resources Washington Place Names Index     Enter a Search

About The Database

About | Conditions of Use | Copyright | Help on Searching | Linking to this Database | Privacy Statement | Requirements | Early Washington Maps: a digital collection at WSU

About the Washington Place Names Index

An informal timeline by way of an introduction to the database:

The many small tribes of Washington each had their own name for the forests, streams, river, plains and valleys of our state. In 1776, Captain James Cook of the Royal Navy named Cape Flattery (because he flattered himself that the cape marked the entrance to the great inland sea (which the Indians called the 'sea in the forest').

The Spanish came in the 1790s and used the names of saints, ships and government officials to name places, mostly in the San Juan Islands.

Captains Vancouver and Gray arrived in 1792 and provided names for about 70 places in the Puget Sound region. The Columbia River, for example, was named after Gray's ship.

By the 1830's the British Hudson's Bay Company established forts at Vancouver, Spokane, Walla Walla, Colville and Nisqually and added their names to Washington places.

The Wilkes expedition of 1841, named points of land along the Washington coast and the Puget Sound interior. When the pioneers arrived, they named virtually everything that wasn't already named.

Climbers contributed names of mountain peaks, valleys, glaciers and streams as they explored the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges.

Yet, despite more than 200 years of naming the places of Washington, there are still lots of places that remain nameless, waiting for the next generation of explorers, climbers, and pioneers.

Washington Place Names was written by Gary Fuller Reese, while Managing Librarian for the Tacoma Public Library's Northwest Room and Special Collections. Mr. Reese spent more than 25 years reviewing the literature, searching documents and maps, and visiting everyplace below 6,000 feet to insure the accuracy of this database, updating the work of such pioneer writers as Edmund S. Meany and Robert Hitchman.

If you have additions, corrections or comments please e-mail:

Gary Fuller Reese c/o greese@tpl.lib.wa.us

or mail to

Tacoma Public Library
Attn: NWR/Washington Place Names
1102 Tacoma Avenue South
Tacoma, WA 98402.

Help on Searching

Search Methods Available:

Place Name:

Look at an alphabetical list of Washington Place Names starting with your word or phrase. Enter some or all of the place name you are looking for. Enter at least two letters of the last name. If you are unsure of the spelling please enter the portion you are sure of, then look through the resulting records.

You can choose two options (by clicking on the buttons under the search input field) -- Truncate Place Name (the default) or Exact Match on Place Name. Truncate place name means that the place name must start with the letters you do enter, but can include anything else. Thus entering "johns" will retrieve any record starting with the place name "Johns", as well as any with "Johnson" or "Johnstone". This option requires you to enter at least the first two letters of the start of the place name. If you click on the button labeled Exact Match on Place Name then ONLY records for the place name "Johns" will be returned. If you know the exact place name, you can enter less than two letters of the place name if you do an exact match in this field. It is usually easier to do a truncation with the full place name for one letter place names, such as "D Lake", "H Lake", "K's Spire", "U Lake" or "Z Canyon". Some initials place names may be entered in this database without intervening spaces, such as "M.J.B. Creek", while others are entered with the space such as "P. J. Lake". Try both variations. A soundex search for a single letter may be a better method for retrieving these records. In any case try to enter the place name exactly as spelled, such as "O'brien" or "O'Hare".

Punctuation is important, but capitalization is not.

Keyword in Place Name:

Search the Place Name for a specific word or phrase. You are searching only the Place Name itself, not the description of the place. For example, enter "Creek" to see an alphabetical list of Place Names that include the word Creek. Enter "Geldern" to find "Von Geldern Cove". Each word you enter in this search field is checked individually rather than as a phrase, and each word is truncated to retrieve the most results. Word order is not important, nor is capitalization. Thus "john creek" or "creek john" will retrieve "Johns Creek", "Johnson Creek" and "Johnny Creek" entered as a keyword search, but fail to find any results in an alphabetical Place Name search.

Soundex:

When you are unsure of the spelling of a place name you can enter a word as generally spelled in the Soundex search field. The Soundex code will be generated and all the potential variations returned. This is an effective search when you have a general idea of how the last name sounds or when looking for variations such as Johnson and Johnsen and Jensen. Soundex is not perfect, but it is a commonly used method for finding names which might have been misspelled. Enter just a single word from the place name in this field. Up to the first three words in the place name are indexed and will be searched. The Soundex codes are displayed for each Place Name record. Do not enter this soundex code (normally in the form A234 or a letter followed by three numbers) in this search field.

Notes Keyword:

Search the Description of the Place Name for a specific word or phrase. You are searching only the descriptive paragraphs about the Place Name, not the Place Name itself. This is a slower search than the others. For example, enter "broughton" to see an alphabetical list of Place Names whose description includes the word "broughton", which should list all the features named by Lieutenant Broughton of the Vancouver Expedition. Each word you enter in this search field is checked individually rather than as a phrase, and each word is truncated to retrieve the most results. Word order is not important, nor is capitalization. Thus "jenny baker" or "baker jenny" will retrieve descriptions talking about "James Baker" and "the brig Jenny", but would also find any location named by "Jenny Bakersfield" as well.

MUST contain ALL the items / CAN contain ANY of the items

Choose between whether searches "MUST contain ALL the terms" (Boolean AND) or "CAN contain ANY of the terms" (Boolean OR). In general you should not modify the default setting for boolean AND. In a boolean AND search, any record in this database must contain ALL the terms or settings you have included. For example, a search for name keyword "Creek" with "1805" in the notes keyword field means that any result must contain "Creek" in the place name AND the date 1805 in the description. This is more precise, and you end up with one record. If you select the boolean OR option then the results can contain ANY of the terms or settings you have included. With that setting the results are much more numerous, but would include for this example any record with the word "Creek" in the Place Name plus ALL the records with 1805 in the description no matter what the place name was. This is a lot more results to look at, currently a total of 1,242 records. The Library recommends leaving this setting at Boolean AND unless your search specifically requires it.

Display matches ONE at a time / Display matches 15 at a time

Searches can display one matching record at a time, or display them in groups of 15 at a time. The default is to display 15 at a time. This is much faster to browse through when you have more than one or two results, and does not slow down a small result very much. The Library recommends leaving this setting at 15 at a time.

Perform Search button

You can normally start a search by entering information in any of the search fields and then pressing the Enter key. Some browsers, particularly versions of Netscape 6, do not allow you to press Enter to submit the search. To move from field to field use the key on your keyboard (normally toward the upper left of the keyboard in the third row down--this key may be labeled "Tab" or just "<- ->" or some variation). You can also fill in the various fields by clicking on the field and entering your search, then clicking on the [Perform Search] button.

Search History

After your first search, a drop down list of prior searches is available. The list appears near the prompt to enter terms in the search boxes. Click on the downward pointing arrow to see a list of prior searches, and use the arrow keys to highlight a prior search and press enter to choose it, or click on the selected search from the history list. Then click on the [Perform Search] button to re-enter that search. Nothing you enter in any of the other search boxes will modify the search you select from history. The search from history, if chosen, will be done exactly as it was done before.

The WSU Historic Maps Collection

This database links (via the place name) to the Early Washington Maps project of the Washington state University.

At the foot of each Washington Place Names description will appear a link to the WSU Early Maps database. Clicking on this link will open a new browser window with the results of a search in the maps collection database. In some cases there will be no matching maps in the WSU database. You will be able to return to the maps home page and enter a variant search, or close the browser window and continue searching in the Washington Place Names database.

Copyright

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) governs the making of photocopies or any other reproductions of copyrighted materials.

Tacoma Public Library is not responsible for the improper or illegal use of any copies of materials from its collections. It is the user's responsibility to guard against the infringement of rights that may be held by others and for clearing reproduction rights and copyright restrictions. Tacoma Public Library does not claim to control the copyright for all pictorial and textual materials in its collections. Library staff will provide any information available for specific items that it has available to the user in this regard if a specific request is made. The Library provides such information as a service to aid patrons in determining the appropriate use of an item, but that determination ultimately rests with the patron. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials from the Library's collections. Patrons are reminded that these materials are provided by the Tacoma Public Library for non-profit educational, personal or scholarly purposes and that transmission or reproduction of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright holders.

The Tacoma Public Library claims copyright to the database and index that comprises the Washington Place Names Index web site, as well as all screen and page displays that comprise the Washington Place Names Index web site. The full text of the specific place name records, which may appear as part of this index or be supplied by the Library upon request, are copyrighted by the newspaper or source within which they originally appeared, and are used with permission for the Washington Place Names Index. Any other commercial use or use beyond the legal bounds of Fair Use without the specific permission of the copyright holder is forbidden.

The Tacoma Public Library is eager to hear from any copyright owners who are not properly identified so that appropriate information may be provided in the future. It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in an appropriate manner under such Act and other applicable intellectual property laws, including the removal or disabling or access to material claimed to be subject of infringing activity. Pursuant to 17 United States Code 512(c)(2) (Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998), the Tacoma Public Library is the designated agent for notice of alleged copyright infringement appearing on our Site. Direct any notices of infringement to:

Tacoma Public Library
Attn: NWR - Copyright Questions
1102 Tacoma Avenue South
Tacoma, WA 98402
Phone: 253-591-5654
Fax: 253-591-5470
Email: nwr@tacomapubliclibrary.org

To file a notice of infringment with us, you must fulfill the requirements specified in Title II of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. The text of this statute can be found at the U.S. Copyright Office Web Site,
http://lcWeb.loc.gov/copyright/.

Conditions of Use

Tacoma Public Library may modify or terminate services from time to time, for any reason, and without notice, without liability to any user or third party. The Library reserves the right to modify the Conditions of Use from time to time without notice. Please review all conditions of use from time to time so that you will be appraised of any changes. The Tacoma Public Library disclaims any and all responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, completeness, legality, reliability, or operability or availability of information or materials displayed in the Washington Place Names Index web site. The Library disclaims any responsibility for the deletion, failure to store, misdelivery, or untimely delivery of any information or materials. The Library disclaims any responsibility for any harm resulting from downloading or accessing any material on the Internet through the Washington Place Names Index web site.

The Washington Place Names Index search services are provided "as is," with no warranties whatsoever. Tacoma Public Library expressly disclaims to the fullest extent permitted by law all express, implied, and statutory warranties, including, without limitation, the warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement of proprietary rights. Tacoma Public Library disclaims any warranties regarding the security, reliability, timeliness, and performance of the Washington Place Names Index search services. Tacoma Public Library disclaims, any warranties for any information or advice obtained through the Washington Place Names Index search services. Tacoma Public Library disclaims any warranties for services or goods received through or advertised on the Washington Place Names Index search services or received through any links provided by the Washington Place Names Index search services, as well as for any information or advice received through any links provided in the Washington Place Names Index search services. You understand and agree that you download or otherwise obtain material or data through the use of the Washington Place Names Index search services at your own discretion and risk and that you will be solely responsible for any damages to your computer system or loss of data that results in the download of such material or data. Some states or other jurisdictions do not allow the exclusion of implied warranties, so the above exclusions may not apply to you. You may also have other rights that vary from state to state and jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Limitation of liability. Under no circumstances shall Tacoma Public Library be liable to any user on account of that user's use or misuse of or reliance on the Washington Place Names Index search services. Arising from any claim relating to this agreement or the subject matter hereof such limitation of liability shall apply to prevent recovery of direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, special, exemplary, and punitive damages whether such claim is based on warranty, contract, tort (including negligence), or otherwise, (even if The Library has been advised of the possibility of such damages). Such limitation of liability shall apply whether the damages arise from use or misuse of and reliance on the Washington Place Names Index search services, from inability to use the Washington Place Names Index search services, or from the interruption, suspension, or termination of the Washington Place Names Index search services (including such damages incurred by third parties). This limitation shall also apply with respect to damages incurred by reason of other services or goods received through or advertised on the Washington Place Names Index search services or received through any links provided in the Washington Place Names Index search services, as well as by reason of any information or advice received through or advertised on the Washington Place Names Index search services or received through any links provided in the Tacoma Public Library search services. This limitation shall also apply, without limitation, to the costs of procurement of substitute goods or services, lost profits, or lost data. Such limitation shall further apply with respect to the performance or non-performance of the Tacoma Public Library search services or any information or merchandise that appears on, or is linked or related in any way to, the Washington Place Names Index search services. Such limitation shall apply notwithstanding any failure of essential purpose of any limited remedy and to the fullest extent permitted by law. Some states or other jurisdictions do not allow the exclusion or limitation of liability for incidental or consequential damages, so the above limitations and exclusions may not apply to you. Without limiting the foregoing, under no circumstances shall Tacoma Public Library be held liable for any delay or failure in performance resulting directly or indirectly from acts of nature, forces, or causes beyond its reasonable control, including, without limitation, internet failures, computer equipment failures, telecommunication equipment failures, other equipment failures, electrical power failures, strikes, labor disputes, riots, insurrections, civil disturbances, shortages of labor or materials, fires, floods, storms, explosions, acts of god, war, governmental actions, orders of domestic or foreign courts or tribunals, non-performance of third parties, or loss of or fluctuations in heat, light, or air conditioning.

Requirements

The Washington Place Names Index web site requires a browser that supports cookies. Cookies are used to maintain your search progress and if your browser does not support cookies, or you choose to turn off cookies in your browser, the search functions of this index will not work.

Linking to this Database

You may link to our site for noncommercial purposes. Please do not link or shortcut to any other page than the base Washington Place Names Index page at "http://search.tpl.lib.wa.us/wanames/" If you link or shortcut (favorites) to any other page there is a good chance that your link will not work the way you expect it to. The index page will continue to work even if the search pages are moved to other servers or locations on the Library web site. No other page is guaranteed to remain available at a specific web address.

Do not frame or otherwise host any portion of the Washington Place Names Index within any other web site without written permission in advance from the Tacoma Public Library. You may link to the search page and open it in a new browser window. You may not place any part of the Index or the content of any part of the Index within a frame, page, or portion of a page on any other web site without written permission in advance from the Tacoma Public Library.

Any harvesting of information from this database, either manually or by automated means, for use in other web sites or any other products, is expressly forbidden. The Washington Place Names Index, graphic elements used in or on the web site, and the contents of this web site and database are copyright © The Board of Trustees of the Tacoma Public Library.

Privacy Statement

The Tacoma Public Library is committed to protecting the privacy of each Washington Place Names Index user.

The Washington Place Names Index does not store any personal information about you or your use of this Index. The Library does require you to fill out a form and send it to the Library, or send us e-mail, in order to share information about the database. This information may include your name, address, telephone number and/or e-mail address. We do not sell, share, or otherwise disclose any of your personal information you might supply to us to any third party, except as absolutely necessary to deliver products to you which you have specifically purchased. We will share your name and address only in order to allow us to supply products which you may order, and to mail those products to you. We will not make your e-mail address available to other parties. We will not make your telephone number available to other parties.

Personal data you choose to submit is used only to reply to you if you choose to share information about any of the Washington Place Names index records in this collection. The Tacoma Public Library does not store or use this information for any other purposes.

The information from your order for related photographs, articles, photocopies, etc. is maintained by the Library as part of its standard financial record. Those materials are open to audit review. Personal information maintained by the Library may be subject to public disclosure pursuant to the Washington State public disclosure statute.

Automatic Information. The Library collects and analyzes some information automatically whenever you use this web site. Examples of the information the Library collects includes the Internet Protocol (IP) address used to connect your computer to the Internet; the computer and connection information such as operating system, platform, browser type and version; and the full Uniform Resource Locators (URL) progression that you use to move around in this web site. This information is used in the aggregate for preparing usage reports, and so that the Library knows how this web site is used, and how it can be improved.

Your Postings to This Site. The Washington Place Names Index may allow any user to post or tell Library Staff information about any Washington Place Name record they view. This feature is designed to allow us to correct inaccuracies introduced either by the original publisher, in the transcription process, or in Library research about a specific place name. By posting any information to this site you give us royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to allow other people to view and use your content, and to use, distribute, display and create derivative works from this content in any and all media, in any manner, in whole or in part, without any restriction or reponsibilities to you.

Problems? Questions?. If you feel that this site is not following our stated policy, or if you have further questions about the Tacoma Public Library Washington Place Names Index Privacy Statement please send e-mail to webfoot@tpl.lib.wa.us with the subject "Privacy Statement". Please include an e-mail address or other method for replying to your comments and questions.


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